The Bureaucracy of German Emigration and Its Traces in German Archives
Friedrich R. Wollmershäuser, 1993
Many American genealogical researchers write to Germany in order to get a copy of their ancestors' "emigration record", often without really knowing what such a file contains. The expectations are quite high, and it is often assume such a record includes biographical information on the emigrant, the port of embarkation and debarkation, the dates of departure and arrival and the exact destination in the country of settlement.
Actually, most of these items were of little interest to the authorities in the German countries. The main objectives for emigration records were the following:
(1) to have a legally valid declaration of the abandonment of citizenship;
(2) to make sure that passports were not issued to young men under conscription;
(3) to make proof that the emigrants had sufficient travel funds, so his home country would not have to support him when he ran out of money on the trip;
(4) to make sure that the emigrant has paid his debts when he left;
(5) to make sure that emigrants under age had sufficient protection by accompanying adults and were protected at their lace of settlement;
(6) to collect data for statistical purposes.
Emigration records therefore just contain some data to identify the emigrant (such as name, age or birth date, occupation) and his family members, a proof about the clearing of the debts or the declaration of a warrant that he will be liable for such, the indication of the exported property, agreements by the guardians of children that they have no objection, and similar agreements by military authorities, and sometimes a contract with an emigration agent. Most emigration records do not include all of this information, however. The following case studies outline the contents of typical emigration records for three different former countries in southern Germany:
Case study 1: Kingdom of Wuerttemberg.
The emigration of Christian Moessner from Lauffen am Neckar in 1856. Lauffen is a little town on the Neckar river between Ludwigsburg and Heilbronn. Shortly after his sixteenth birthday, Christian Heinrich Mössner decided to emigrate to America, and delcared his decision to the office. This caused the following procedure to his discharge from citizenship:
13 Christian Heinrich Moessner, b. 7 Sept. 1840 as son of the cooper Johannes Christian Moessner appears before the local council of his home town Lauffen am Neckar (then in the county of Besigheim) and declares that he wants to emigrate to North America. He renounces the Wuerttemberg citizenship. His father, who is also a bail for debts that may come up in the future, is willing to give him 100 florins for the trip.
13 The application is registered in the proceedings of the council, and a copy is forwarded to the county administration at Besigheim.
13 The county administration at Besigheim permits the emigration and reports the permit to the council in Lauffen.
13 The decision is made known to the applicant. The emigration is registered at the family register (Familien- register) which is kept by the local Lutheran minister for civil registration purposes (vol. IV page 447).
8 In the Staatsanzeiger (government gazette), the Besigheim district office announces that Christian Heinrich Mussner (sic!) of Lauffen and Johann Karl Eckert from Besigheim, both unmarried, have emigrated to America.
14 Christian Moesner, farmer from Württemberg, aged 16, arrives in New York on the ship Admiral from LeHavre (GTA 10:299) Karl Eckert is on the same ship.
18 Christian Moessner aged 17 from Württemberg and Philipp Moessmer aged 26 also from Württemberg arrive in New Orleans on the ship Lucy A Nickals via LeHavre (GTA 10:358).
- The emigration is registered in the list of young men, born in 1835 and later, who have emigrated since 1852 without their parents and before fulfilling their military service. - The emigration is registered in the list of legal emigrants from Besigheim county.
- The emigration is registered in the list of legal emigrants from the Kingdom of Wuerttemberg in 1856.
August 1864: 27 The probate record of the father Johann Christian Moessner of Lauffen mentions as second heir the son Christian, b. 7 Sept. 1840, 1840, since 1855 in America where he emigrated with permit, in America since 1855, his present location being unknown.
Conclusion: Entries on emigrants from Württemberg in the 19th century can be found at various places, such as
- the proceedings of the local council (Gemeinderat),
- the record of the district offices (Oberämter), now kept in the state archives of Ludwigsburg and Sigmaringen (and largely indexed by the Wuerttemberg emigration index),
- the records of the province governments (Kreisregierungen) from 1871 onwards, in difficult cases from 1815 onwards; these records are all in the Ludwigsburg state archives.
- annual lists of emigrants taken for statistical purposes (in the Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart), - the family registers from 1808 onwards, in which the whereabouts of all family members ought to be indicated,
- official notifications about persons who have left the country or (in some cases) about such who are preparing their emigration.
- for illegal emigrants, the recruiting lists for the year when they reached the age of 21, and summons to these men in the gazettes. Sources: Staatsarchiv Ludwigsburg F 154 Bü. 167, 198.
- Archiv der Stadt Lauffen A 133; ibid. B 112 No. 977 and 993. - Hauptstaatsarchiv Stutt- gart E 143 II Bü. 436/494.
Case study 2: The Grandduchy of Baden.
The emigration of Philipp Neudecker from Neckarau near Mannheim, 1848.
Neckarau was a village near Mannheim and is now part of the city of Mannheim. In 1848, a young couple from that place decided to emigrate to America. There is no evidence that their decision was influenced by the revolution which took place in that year.
15 Philipp Neudecker, b. 10 Nov. 1827 in Neckarau, appears before the "Bezirksamt" (county office) of Schwetzingen and applies for permission to emigrate to America for himself and his fiance, Catharina Weidner whom he wants to marry before emigration. Permission from the "Kreisregierung" (district government) is necessary because Philipp is "konskriptionspflichtig" (subject to the draft). Philipp is warned of the consequences of emigration (dangers at sea, risk of impoverishing in America etc.) but insists in his project.
17 The notary public is requested to clear the debts and investi- gate the property of the would-be emigrant.
24 The notary public orders that the proposed emigration is being pub- lished in the Karlsruher Zeitung, the Anzeigeblatt, and the Mannheimer Journal, and that the text will also be displayed on the local community bulletin board. All creditors of the emigrant are summoned to appear to the "Tagfahrt" (clearing day) on 5 August.
5 The community clerk Arnold certifies that the announcement has been posted since 24 July on the bulletin board.
5 Ludwig Brecker, notary public for the district of Schwetzingen, certifies that an investigation of property and debts of the proposed emigrant has been made in the presence of himself and two witnesses. The emigrant has no debts and no property except what he might get or sometime inherit from his parents. His wife Catharina Weidner received 921 florins worth of property from her grandmother in 1846.
8 The "Protkoll" (minutes, or procedings) of this clearing day are forwarded to the district office.
19 The case is forwarded to the "Kreisregierung" because the emigrant is still "konskriptionspflichtig".
22 The "Regierung des Unterrheinkreises" (district government) in Mannheim gives permission for the emigration.
28 The permit is issued to the emigrant and includes his wife.
About 1930 The emigration record is deposited in Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe, ruhe, record group 362, and is listed by the name of Neudecker in the inventory of this record group.
Conclusion: Entries on emigrants from Baden in the 19th century can be found at various places, such as
- the emigration records, kept in the Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe and the Staatsarchiv Freiburg in the record groups of the districts.
- notarial records (probate, sale, orphan's property) if someone already in America appears as a seller of an estate, or as an heir,
- the name-lists of legal emigrants from 1866 to 1911, made up for statistical pusposed, which are kept by the Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe, together with an index.
- parish registers with notations about an emigration,
- gazettes (local newspapers, gazettes of the four provinces, and the Karlsruher Zeitung) with the annoucements of clearing days before emigrations, and many other categories in which absent persons may be listed.
- sometimes in local archives.
Case study 3: The Prussian province of Hohenzollern.
The emigration of Babette Dopfer from Sigmaringen.
6 "Kreisgerichtsrat" (justice clerk) Dopfer is willing to serve for a year as a bail for Babette Dopfer who is willing to emigrate to America.
9 The widow Babette Dopfer appears before the "Oberamt" (county administration) of Sigmaringen and declares that she wants to emigrate to America with her children. She applies for release from the citizenship.
9 An announcement of the emigration in a public paper is ordered.
12 The Oeffentlicher Anzeiger, an enclosure to the Amtsblatt der Königlich Preußischen Regierung zu Sigmaringen, No. 15, announces that Babette Dopfer widow from Sigmaringen intends to emigrate to North America.
23 The widow Babette Dopfer shows receipts for 150 florins for the sale of her citizen's privileges, and for 50 fl. as a support. 25 The "Oberamt" writes to the "Regierung" (government) that the widow Babette Dopfer nee Birkle from here has declared her intent to emigrate with her children to America. The release from citi- zenship may be issued as quickly as possible as Mrs. Dopfer wants to leave Hamburg the 15th of May.
27 The "Regierung" sends the emigration permit to the "Oberamt". The papers may only be handed out if widow Dopfer presents the agreement of the minor children's guardian.
27 The emigration is registered in the emigration register of the Sigmaringen "Regierung" (Staatsarchiv Sigmaringen Ho 230 Abt. 1 No. 157).
28 The "Oberamt" reports to the "Regierung" that Mrs. Dopfer wants to emigrate with Carl Ummenhofer from Riedlingen (Wuerttemberg) in order to marry him in America, that they want to go aboard the ship at 15 May and that the children have no guardian.
28 The "Kgl. Kreisgerichtsdeputation" (Royal district court depu- tation) grants emigration permit for the three minor children of widow Dopfer and returns the records to the "Oberamt".
28 The papers are to be handed out to the widow. She signs a receipt for these papers.
29 The handing out of the papers is recorded in the file. Source: emigration file at Staatsarchiv Sigmaringen, Ho 199 No. 9432.
If an unknown place of origin is being searched, and when all sources in the country of destination have been exhausted without finding the exact location, then one ought at first consult the emigration indexes of the state archive for the country of origin (Bavaria, Hesse etc.).
When this proves unsuccessful, one may try to find the place of origin by checking the main newspapers and gazettes of the country of origin. This requires a good knowledge of the year, or even better the months of the emigration, and it requires some trust in the lawfulness of the ancestor. Illegal emigrants are often mentioned, too, but usually not closely to the time when they left, so these entries can only be located with the help of overall indexes.
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Bibliography: Gert Hagelweide (comp.), Deutschå Zeitungsbestände in Biblitotheken und Archiven / German Newspapers in Libraries and Archives. (Düsseldorf: Droste 1974) (Survey of major newspapers located in public libraris and archives in both parts of Germany). Oskar Michel, Handbuch Deutscher Zeitungen (Berlin: Elsner 1917)(an excellent tool to find the titles and years of foundation of local newspapers allover Germany).
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Here are a few newspapers which carried emigration announcements:
Baden c1800-1871 Karlsruher Zeitung (indexed by F.R.W.). c1800-1868 Großherzoglich Badisches Anzeigeblatt für .. (from 1832 to 1856 four series, then one until 1868 by the title Großherzoglich Ba- disches Allgemeines Anzeigeblatt). c1800-1871 local newspapers
Württemberg c1800-1850 Schwäbischer Merkur and enclosure Schwäbische Chronik. c1800-1870 Stuttgarter Anzeigen von allerhand Sachen (etc.) and other titles, from 1850 on by the name Staatsanzeiger für Württemberg (very incomplete to the late 1820s). c1820-1870 Local newspapers.
Hohenzollern 1809-1834 Wochenblatt für das Fürstentum Hohenzollern- Sigmaringen. 1835-1850 Verordnunge- und Anzeigeblatt für das Für- stentum Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. 1829-1836 Wochenblatt für das Fürstentum Hohenzollern- Hechingen. 1837-1844 Verordnungs- und Intelligenzblatt für das Fürstentum Hohenzollern-Hechingen. 1845-1850 Verordnungs- und Anzeigeblatt für das Fürstentum Hechingen. 1855-1933 Amtsblatt der Königlich Preußischen Regierung zu Sigmaringen (and enclosure) Oeffentlicher Anzeiger.
Bayern (Bavaria) Emigrations announced in local newspapers and gazettes.
Braunschweig 1846-1871 Braunschweigische Anzeigen, and other papers. Emigration entries published by Fritz Gruhne, Auswandererlisten des ehemaligen Herzogtums Braunschweig ohne Stadt Braunschweig und Landkreis Holzminden. Quellen und Forschun- gen zur braunschweigischen Geschichte 20. (Braunschweig: Geschichtsverein 1971).
Waldeck1829-1872 Fürstlich Waldeckisches Regierungsblatt. Entries on emigrants published by Karl Thomas, Die waldeckische Auswanderung zwischen 1829 und 1872. 2 vols. (Köln and Eslohe: privately published by the author, 1983).
Kurhessen 1831-1866 Wochenblatt für die Provinz Niederhessen.
Nassau 1849-1868 Nassauisches Intelligenzblatt. Names of emigrants published by Wolf-Heino Struck, Die Auswanderung aus dem Herzogtum Nassau (1806-1866). Geschichtliche Landes- kunde 4 (Wiesbaden: Steiner 1966), 133-203.
Prussia 1819-1843 Allgemeine Preußische Staatszeitung. 1843-1848 Preusische Staatszeitung. 1848 Preußischer Staatsanzeiger. 1849-1871 Kgl. Preußischer Staatsanzeiger.
German Empire 1871-1918 Deutscher Reichsanzeiger und Kgl. Preußi- scher Staatsanzeiger (these years are being abstracted by the Germanic Emigrants Regi- ster, P. O. Box 1720, W-2840 Diepholz, Germany).
Other common types of newspaper announcements that contain or may contain names of emigrants:
- Summons to a deserter from the armed forces to appear before court.
- Summons to appear before court or loose citizenship after illegal emigration.
- Search for fugitive persons who are suspected of having committed a crime.
- Summons to missing or absent persons to appear before court or being declared legally deceased.
- Call for missing heirs.